The Supreme Court on 20 January has dismissed a plea filed by the death row convict in the Nirbhaya gangrape case, Pawan Gupta claiming that he was a juvenile when he committed the offense.
The three-judge bench comprising of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, and AS Bopanna was hearing a special leave petition filed by Pawan, who challenged the Delhi High Court’s order which declined to entertain his plea in which he claimed that he was a juvenile at the time of committing the crime.
AP Singh, the lawyer for convict Pawan K Gupta stated the SC bench that “Pawan’s age was 17 years, 1 month and 20 days when the offense was committed, and thus should be considered as Juvenile.”
The bench countered Singh’s contention by stating that “You have raised this plea before the trial Court, High Court and the Supreme Court itself, and was also rejected by all the courts earlier. How many times we will hear the same things, you have raised it already many times.”
However, Singh argued that the plea for juvenility can be raised at any time, according to the law and further affirmed that there may be a conspiracy to conceal the fact on the issue.
Nonetheless, the Court dismissed his plea and said that while the law does provide for a plea of juvenility to be raised at any stage, the same provision cannot be used to re-agitate the issue repeatedly, especially when the issue has been decided on by all Courts up to the Supreme Court.
Stating that the court finds no reason to interfere with the decision of the Delhi High Court, the SC bench observed that “Section 7A of the Juvenile Justice Act grants a right to file an application before any court at any stage, even after the final disposal of the petition. But once a convict has chosen to take the plea of juvenility before the learned Magistrate, High Court and also before the Supreme Court and the said plea has been rejected up to the Supreme Court, the petitioner cannot be allowed to agitate the plea of juvenility by filing a fresh application under Section 7A of the JJ Act.”
The four convicts Mukesh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Kumar, and Pawan Gupta are scheduled to be hanged on 1 February at 6 AM.